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Historic Sites in Tennessee
Discover Tennessee’s rich history with a tour of historic sites around the Great Smoky Mountains and Blue Ridge Mountains. From plantations to forts, you’ll find several notable destinations to explore in every region of Tennessee.
Blue Ridge Historic Sites
Sites of Interest in Appalachian Tennessee
Many opportunities for outdoor recreation and festivals abound in the Blue Ridge Mountains of eastern Tennessee – however, many historic sites pop up quite frequently as well.
Historic districts, living museums, and Appalachian artifacts are found throughout eastern Tennessee, and we can be your guides.
Established in 1934 as a national park, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to many a historic site. The park features four historic areas: Cades Cove Historic District, Elkmont Historic District, Roaring Fork Historic District, and the Noah Ogle Place.
Tour the Cades Cove Historic District along the 11-mile loop trail, and check out the John Oliver Cabin, the John Cable Grist Mill, the Becky Cable House, and many other historic structures. Check out the Alfred Reagan Place in Roaring Fork, the Noah "Bud" Ogle Place historic home, and many historic cottages in Elkmont.
Many sites in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are also found on the National Register of Historic Places, including the Walker Sisters Place, Mayna Treanor Avent Studio, and the Little Greenbrier School.
Several Tennessee towns are home to historic sites as well, including the Sevierville Commercial District in Sevierville and the Beechwood Hall in Newport.
Townsend is home to the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center and the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company Museum, while Knoxville hosts plenty of must-sees like the East Tennessee History Center, the William Blount Mansion, and the historic Tennessee Theatre.
Andrew Johnson National Historic Site
Preserving the memory of one of America's lesser known presidents, the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site includes two of Johnson's homes in Greeneville, and his gravesite within the Andrew Johnson National Cemetery. Housed within the site, the visitor complex consists of a a museum detailing the president and his life, and the much unchanged tailor shop.
The president lived in the house from 1869 to 1875, and fully owned the 23-acre property until his death in northeastern Tennessee. The complex's appearance since then has been virtually unchanged, and allows for visitors to step back and reflect upon some of America's most tumultuous times – including the circumstances of Johnson's famous impeachment. The site is located between Morristown, Newport, and Johnson City.
Belle Meade Plantation
A U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Belle Meade Plantation is located in central Tennessee in Belle Meade near Nashville. Constructed in 1807, this historic mansion now operates as a museum, event venue, and wedding site.
Belle Meade Plantation also features stables, specialty tours of the plantation, and the Shop at Belle Meade Plantation. If you plan on staying a while, try the Winery at Belle Meade Plantation and the Harding House Restaurant.
A top destination in Franklin for Civil War buffs and fans of American History, the Carter House is found just off of Columbia Avenue and West Fowles Street in middle Tennessee. The Carter House holds a major piece of Civil War history – in the basement is where the Carter family hid waiting for the Second Battle of Franklin to end.
Managed by the Battle of Franklin Trust, the Carter House is found on the Carnton Plantation. At the Carter House, which as been beautifully restored, you can enjoy guided tours, shop the gift shop, and even use the marvelously maintained grounds to host your wedding.
Located in Cumberland Furnace, the Drouillard House & Conference Center is found in the northwestern Nashville metro area.
Set north of Dickson on Old Highway 48, the D House was built in 1870 – and listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. The Drouillard House now hosts therapeutic workshops, seminars, and recreational activities.
Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
Perfect for the history buff, the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is set in eastern Tennessee in the city of Townsend – just outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Located along Scenic Highway 73, the heritage center showcases the Blue Ridge Mountains area during the 1800s through historic structures like the Cardwell Log Cabin, Wheelwright Shop, and the Montvale Station.
Tours of the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center galleries and the Historic Village are available for adults. The center plays host to annual events like concerts, food contests, and music festivals, and also features the Veterans Honor Garden.
Historic Mansker's Fort
Frozen in 1779, the Historic Mansker's Fort is set in Goodlettsville just north of the Nashville area. Settled along Avery's Trace, Mansker's Fort is an interactive museum offering tours weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Known to be the longest standing brick structure in mid-Tennessee, the Bowen Plantation House is also found at Mansker's Fort. Constructed in 1787, this historic site was the former home of Captain William Bowen of the Revolutionary War.
Tennessee travelers may also check out the free museum in the Historic Mansker's Station Visitor Center for exhibits and further information. The museum is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Old Stone Fort
Use your imagination to picture what prehistoric life must have been like when you visit the Old Stone Fort in Middle Tennessee. Built by Woodland Era Native Americans, the Old Stone Fort was a ceremonial and sacred gathering place located on a hilltop surrounded by rivers and cliffs. An underground museum accompanies the fort and provides dioramas and exhibitions of its more than 2,000 years of history.
The site also features several miles of hiking trails, allowing willing visitors to discover more artifacts left behind by the mound builders. Picnic tables make for an excellent lunch break while exploring this park, a short hop away from Shelbyville, Winchester, and Monteagle.
Constructed in 1852, the Rippavilla Plantation is located in Spring Hill in middle Tennessee – just south of the Nashville metro area. The Rippavilla Plantation preserves the former home of Nathaniel Frances Cheairs IV.
Found on the National Register of Historic Places, this Greek & Colonial Revival is open to the public. Hour-long tours of this Civil War-era home are held Monday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. – and Sundays 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Special events include the Swanky Plank Vintage Marketplace, the Vines & Vintage Artisan Marketplace, and the Rippavilla Brigade – a Civil War Reenacting Organization.